The Seagull Effect Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Idle Motion
Paul Slater (artistic producer), Kate Stanley (producer), Thomas Conway (dramaturg), Creg Cebula (lighting designer), Xa White (sound designer)
Grace Chapman (narrator), Alex Kearley-Shiers (man), Kate Stanley (woman), Finn Cockburn/Sophie Cullen/Ellie Simpson (ensemble)
Running time

Storms seem to cause chaos – or maybe it goes further than that. Perhaps it’s not possible to accurately predict the weather, as the smallest changes can have drastic effects. And, if that’s true for the climate, what about our lives?

So asks a young woman as she steps from the audience in apparent lieu of a cast and shares her memories of the Great Storm of 1987, the worst to hit England for hundreds of years. The recollections are of small personal events forming a chain. While we can all remember where we were on the day of the Storm or global events like 9/11 or the day Princess Diana died, can we easily place the decisions that brought us to today - the choices, the little rights and lefts of our path through life?

In a flurry of umbrellas, projections and fast moving scenery, the ensemble cast explore chaos theory and alternate history as they tell the loosely overlapping stories of those caught up in the gale, including our narrator and a pair of storm-tossed lovers. It’s done with the company’s usual wit and skill with inventive stagecraft and use of props, but written on a larger scale. 

As a counterpoint to the encompassing chaos, the estranged couple are thrown together to weather out their own personal storm and consider the winds of change driven by their previous choices, chance and minor actions.

In the main, it’s beguiling to watch with some magical moments, although the live weather report and dance sequences suffer against the more imaginative staging with projections and vox pop recordings. The cast put in confident performances and Grace Chapman is disarming in her role of narrator.

Idle Motion continue to produce beautiful, original and exciting work, but they need to ensure that in devising work there is a strong and clear narrative. Perhaps due to the ambitious sweeping scale of the piece, it feels slightly less finessed than last year’s “The Vanishing Horizon”. In reviewing that production, I concluded “… if you have not witnessed this form of physical theatre before you will be blown away.” A prophetic choice of words – what are the chances of that?

Show times: 5-27 (not 16 and 23) August 2011, 4.20pm

Ticket price: £8.00-10.00